Rahul Gandhi is clearly hinting at PM Modi and his government and saying that the regime was more into publicity than action. But that applies to RaGa as well
While the country is busy fighting the Corona pandemic, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has embarked on a trip to massage his own ego. He has been interacting with certain prominent people on Corona-related issues, the videos of which are being released in the public domain. His ‘guests’ are those who have a pronounced opposition to the Modi government and, therefore, their opinions are music to Rahul Gandhi’s ears.
Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan and economist and Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee featured in the recordings. The latest to do so is Rajiv Bajaj. None of them needed the Congress leader’s platform to make their views known. Indeed, they had already shared their thoughts through electronic media and print media interviews. Thus, there was nothing new to what they said in the conversations with Rahul Gandhi.
All of these three personalities have regularly raised questions on the Centre’s response to the pandemic crisis. Even before, they were critical of the government on the issue of unemployment and the management of the country’s economy in general. They have the right to do so, of course, and their views are considered with some respect given their backgrounds. At the same time, it is obvious that they have found nothing to complement the government. It is as if the Modi regime has been doing everything wrong.
Rahul Gandhi failed to take proper positions on issues of grave national importance — the planned riots in Delhi during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, and the Shaheen Bagh demonstrations.
Abhijit Banerjee is a Left-leaning economist and that impacts his opinions. As RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan presided over the piling of non-performing assets in banks. He was also not given an extension in office by the government. Rajiv Bajaj’s case is more interesting. His Bajaj group, in the bad old days of license-permit-quota raj, had been among the worst hit. True, it had a monopoly because foreign players never had a level playing field, but even then the Bajaj group was restrained by laws; it could not produce as many two-wheelers as the market demanded.
It is not a coincidence that the Bajaj group chief Rahul Bajaj was part of a cabal that was opposed to opening the economy and allowing foreign players into the Indian market. He had believed that it would affect the hegemony of his products, though he camouflaged that by stating that Indian companies must be given the protection they deserved. Today, when the Modi government has resolved to prioritize India-made products — be vocal about Local — the Baja group ought to be complementing the government. But there is silence.
Returning to Rahul Gandhi, he appears happy enough to listen to views that match his own. As one editorial in a leading national newspaper — not really supportive of the Modi government — observed in its editorial, “Rahul Gandhi’s video interactions are a pleasant echo chamber.” It has been an exercise of preaching to the converted, nothing more. The interactions have done nothing to fine-tune the opposition party’s strategy against the government. As the editorial pointed out, “Surely, Opposition politics during a time of distress needs more.”
At times, Rahul Gandhi does say something sensible. His remark, for instance, that image should be based on strength and not the other way around. He is clearly hinting at Prime Minister Modi and his government and saying that the regime was more into publicity than action. But that applies to Rahul Gandhi as well. His video interactions are nothing more than an exercise in self-image building. It is a desperate attempt to recalibrate his reputation of being ill-informed, of speaking without a proper understanding of issues, and of leveling wild accusations.
That notoriety has not come in the Corona period; it existed before. We saw it on the Rafale issue when he went to town calling the Prime Minister a thief. Rahul Gandhi failed to take proper positions on issues of grave national importance — the planned riots in Delhi during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, and the Shaheen Bagh demonstrations. Overtime the Indians security forces achieve success in eliminating terrorists in the valley, the Congress party sidesteps the achievement and asks other questions.
These tactics have cost the Congress party dear in election after election, and yet its leaders continue to cling on to them. Unless they come out of that warp, no amount of self-aggrandizement through video interactions is going to work.
In any case, how many people take Rahul Gandhi seriously? One hopes a national survey is conducted by some agency.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.